With the No. 23 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings have landed former Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. A three-year starter in college, Treadwell was the consensus top receiver in the draft class through his final NCAA season and into the pre-draft process, but his stock quickly fell as concerns about his speed arose.
Soon, analysts were predicting he could be the second or third receiver off the board. He ended up being the fourth off the board with Corey Coleman, Will Fuller and Josh Doctson all going before him. In what is considered a relatively weak class at the position overall, that's a big deal, but Treadwell was still obviously going to be a high pick in the draft. And concerns about his speed are probably, as usual, overblown.
Treadwell led the SEC in receiving in 2015 with 82 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was All-SEC and earned All-America honors for his efforts, made all the more impressive after a gruesome leg injury cut short his sophomore season. Experts tout his ability to fight for a ball in the air, his excellent catching radius and his excellent concentration.
Detractors harp on one thing above all else: a lack of speed.
Treadwell did not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he did run it at his pro day with Ole Miss. He had a very good workout overall, impressing in all drills but coming up short with a 4.63-second 40-yard dash. It was slow for an elite receiver for sure, but Treadwell's game was never about speed and he simply told media after the drill that he was proud of himself and that he "got it over with."
Receivers don't need to break speed records to make it in the NFL. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, two longtime veterans and some of the most successful and prolific receivers in NFL history, ran the same or slower times than Treadwell, and they're still going strong. Keenan Allen and Kelvin Benjamin are two exciting young receivers and both of them were also in that range.
Treadwell plays a lot like a couple of those guys, Boldin and Benjamin in particular. He's no stranger to making big plays when they matter most.
A receiver needs great route running, something that Treadwell does admittedly need to work on. Running NFL routes and running them well enough to leave NFL cornerbacks in the dust is always the top task for any rookie receiver and Treadwell is no different. But his ability to fight for the ball, his ability to turn his entire body to make catch and his natural size make him a strong pickup for his new team.
Teddy Bridgewater can use the help, as Stefon Diggs was a welcomed addition, but didn't help drag the Vikings out from second-to-last in passing yards and touchdowns. With Mike Wallace gone, Treadwell should be able to contribute right away and likely grab a starting spot for the Vikings.
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